Salone Internazionale del Mobile Milano
This week we take a quick tour of the Milan International Furniture Fair, or Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano as they say in Italian. With over 3000 companies and designers on display there’s a lot to take in! What new design trends can we see on the horizon?
Introductory Tour of the Exhibition
If you don’t speak Italian, don’t worry. As they say, the language of design is international. Nonetheless, the Italian interior design magazine DOMUS has a useful section of #Salone2015 articles translated into English. As we tour around expansive furniture displays, we quickly become reacquainted with the fine handcrafted details that Italian design is famous for. As we discussed in an article last year on design trends in 2014, neutral earth tones and natural materials like leather and natural wood surfaces continue to dominate furniture design once again at the Milan Furniture Fair.
The Italian Slow Design Movement
It’s clear that Italian designers want to make a design statement by using natural materials and traditional techniques that’s not unlike the slow food movement. In fact, some are calling it the slow design movement, an effort to celebrate and revive the traditional craft work that each region of Italy is famous for. A perfect example of this is the winner of the Elita Milan Design Award competition: Antonio Marras for Segno Italiano. The entry, called the Path to the Nest of Spiders, celebrates traditional Italian woven basket making, starting with the cultivation of River Cane, Myrtle, Olive and Willow raw materials.
The Future of Work, Italian Style
What is the vision for the Italian office workspace of the future? For this we turn to Michele De Lucchi, and his comprehensive installation called “The Walk” (La Passeggiata in Italian) created for the Workplace3.0/SaloneUfficio 2015 exhibition. In De Lucchi’s view, modern office work requires balance throughout the day; his response is an office workspace that provides four different thematic areas:
- Area for Social Exchange (Club)
- Space for Intimacy (Free Men)
- Pavilion of Collaboration (Agorà)
- Place of Design (Laboratory)
What strikes us when touring “The Walk” exhibition is the visual connection between De Lucci’s natural wood designs — especially the woven basket-like space dividers — and the slow design movement winner Path to the Nest of Spiders. For more information about this work, you can a detailed synopsis of the design theory or view a full video interview of De Lucchi.
Fashion Meets Transportation Design
Another trend we have identified: Luxury, Fashion and Design continue to become more closely entwined. Underscoring this point is the remarkable win by the automobile manufacturer Lexus. They didn’t win for their technology or for product design; instead Lexus won the category for the “Best Entertaining” exhibition. The winning presentation “Lexus – A Journey of the Senses” supports many of the slow design tenets as it celebrates the touch and feel of quality leather surfaces, subtle visual lighting effects, and sensual tastes and smells.
Slow Fast Food vs. Fast Slow Design? Lunch at a Food Truck.
Lexus was not the only automobile manufacturer trying to make a connection with our senses. The venerable French car company Peugeot brought their custom-designed Food Truck, dubbed le Bistrot du Lion to the Salone del Mobile Milano. While food trucks may be part of the greater slow food movement, it’s a bit ironic because they serve up fast food. Will we see one of these sleek Peugoet Food Trucks stateside anytime soon? We hope so.
Conceptual artist and product designer Renny Ramakers of the Dutch firm Studio Droog won the Best Tech award category at the Milano Design Awards 2015. Ramakers, who has the pulse of international design trends, created a pitch perfect presentation that caught everyone’s attention.
Unlike massive display stands, the entire Droog installation, called Construct Me!, fit into the storefront of an ordinary Italian hardware shop. Not only did the understated size of the presentation capture everyone’s imagination, it also fit perfectly with the new line of clever, whimsical hardware elements created by Droog designers. These include oversize wing-nuts, oversize screws with embossed emoticons, jewel-like nail heads and clever piano-hinges that are a feature not to be hidden behind the surface.
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